Autonomous Commercial Vehicles Closer to Hitting the Road After New Developments

By Lawrence J Hamilton II, David C Whitestone, Joel E Roberson

The release of new federal guidance on autonomous vehicles, as well as the recent consideration of federal autonomous vehicle legislation in Congress, increases the likelihood that the introduction of autonomous commercial vehicles (ACVs), including commercial trucks, on our nation’s highways is drawing closer to fruition.

However, the SELF DRIVE Act as passed by the U.S. House of Representatives creates a new regulatory pathway for autonomous passenger vehicles only. The Teamsters, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) and other labor unions and groups have publicly opposed the inclusion of ACVs in the draft legislation due to the potential impact on the more than 3 million U.S. truck drivers.

Although many powerful groups oppose the inclusion of ACVs in any federal legislation or regulations enabling self-driving vehicles, proponents of ACVs – including safety organizations, truck manufacturers, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and other large companies – also have considerable clout. Proponents tout safety and also argue that including ACVs will benefit the economy and lead to the creation of new jobs.

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